Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, based on information received by 18:00hrs, 29 July (Kyiv time)
This report is provided for media and general public.
The SMM visited Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, which was retaken by the Ukrainian army. The situation in Donetsk deteriorated. The SMM visited three areas of Donetsk city after an explosion and assessed the damage.
The SMM in Kharkiv noted that the situation was calm.
The SMM went to Severodonetsk (90 km north of Luhansk) where the situation appeared to have returned close to normal. The SMM saw that the city had not been severely damaged by shelling and fighting. The mayor of the town told the SMM that both the water and electricity supply had been provided with occasional disruptions. He stated that schools would resume normal operations after the summer break. He claimed that 40% of the 120,000 inhabitants had fled Severodonetsk during the conflict.
Two bridges were badly damaged, including the railway bridge. A bridge leading into the town from the northern part of the Luhansk region was damaged by an explosion, but cars were still driving through. There was fuel at the gas stations and public transport seemed to run as normal.
The director of the hospital in Severodonetsk told the SMM that the hospital was operational and would soon again be fully staffed. She informed the SMM that the hospital has received 30 injured and six dead people from Lysychansk.
When the SMM tried to approach a Ukrainian checkpoint in Nyzhnia Vilhkova, soldiers adopted a firing posture aiming at the OSCE car. Three series of warning gunshots were fired into the air in the direction of the vehicle. The SMM retreated from the spot unharmed.
The SMM witnessed that an attempt to establish a “humanitarian corridor” for the inhabitants of Luhansk city had failed. The intention was to enable the departure of residents who wish to leave the city. It appeared that a lack of communication and agreement between the Ukrainian authorities and representatives of the so-called “Luhansk People’s Republic” did not allow for such a scheme.
The fighting around Donetsk city continued and the situation deteriorated. Following a loud explosion audible in the vicinity, the SMM visited three areas of the city. The SMM observed moderate damage caused by shrapnel from artillery attacks in the neighbourhoods of Trenova and Batisheva Street. But the neighbourhood that sustained the most serious damage was at Rosa Luxemburg Street, including one fatality. All the windows on the apartment blocks were broken, while holes were visible on building facades. In addition, the SMM saw human body parts at the scene.
The SMM was again unsuccessful in reaching the wreckage site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Due to security considerations only a reconnaissance with two SMM vehicles (with one representative of the Australian contingent and one representative of the Dutch contingent) was made, but the SMM stopped in Shakhtarsk when they heard gunfire exchanges (believed to be taking place within a maximum distance of one kilometre) and a mortar/howitzer impact (believed to be taking place within a distance of two-three kilometres). The SMM returned to Donetsk without any further incident. The original access road to the wreckage site is no longer accessible due to ongoing military operations. The SMM continues to work on different channels to regain access to it.
The situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson and Odessa was calm.
The SMM continued to observe the situation in the southeast of the Chernivtsi region. In Hertsa, Novoselytsia and Vyzhnytsia no roadblocks were observed. The head of the district council in Hertsa informed the SMM that the situation in the whole district was rather calm and roadblocks were dismantled. This reportedly came as a result of the visit to Ostrytsia village paid a day before by the regional governor together with bishop Login from the Banchen monastery and other local officials.
In Ivano-Frankivsk the SMM went to the LUKOIL gas station in Rakivchyk village close to Kolomyya (60 km south-east of Ivano-Frankivsk) in order to confirm whether the station was still blocked by ‘Right Sector’ activists. The director of the gas station confirmed to the SMM that a blockade had been going on for four days. The blockade was the result of a dispute between a Right Sector member and employees of the gas station. The shop and the gas station itself remain closed, guarded by two ‘Right Sector’ representatives in a car.
The situation in Lviv remained calm.
In Kyiv the SMM attended a multi-faith press conference at which representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Ukraine’s Muslims, and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate, together with several public initiatives’ members, announced the beginning of a rally and their intention to travel to several Ukrainian cities (Kherson, Mykolayiv and Odessa) in order to raise the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from eastern Ukraine. The rally started in Kyiv on 29 July and will finish in Odessa on 1 August. The representatives underlined the necessity of socially integrating IDPs in a new environment and preventing conflict amongst the IDPs which might arise from differing ideological backgrounds. The representatives’ main focus was on organizing roundtable discussions, press conferences, gathering different stakeholders together, listening and responding to IDPs’ needs. The rally will also bring humanitarian assistance to IDPs.
At a press conference attended by the SMM, the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, said that more than 60 orphans from Luhansk had been taken to the border with the Russian Federation by a group of separatists in the night between 26 and 27 July. However Russian authorities would not allow the children into Russian territory unless accompanied by a Ukrainian consul. The children were then taken safely back to Kharkiv on 28 July. The Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner also denied reports that some of the 81 orphans who were evacuated from Donetsk to Mariupol on 28 July had been killed or injured.